Posted By Cindy September 4, 2008
The AgNite event sponsored by the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council on the second night of the Republican National Convention was a model of what agriculture should be nationwide – united.
Agribusiness companies and organizations of all stripes united to showcase the food, fuel and agriculture industries for the delegates and policy makers in the Twin Cities for the convention. The event’s top sponsors included the Minnesota Corn Growers, CHS, Land O’ Lakes, Hormel and AgStar – growers, food processors, co-ops – the meat industry and the grain industry … everyone put their differences aside, both political and policy, for at least one evening to unite for agriculture. Unofficial estimates put the crowd during the night at over 4,000 – a tremendous turnout that exceeded expectations. It was a beautiful thing.
Let’s keep that momentum going.
Posted By Cindy August 29, 2008
Agriculture will be in the spotlight for thousands attending the Republican National Convention next week.
The Minnesota Agri-Growth Council is hosting AgNite, a celebration of America’s food and agriculture industry, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008, during the second night of the RNC in the Twin Cities. The evening event will showcase the food, agriculture and energy industries in a unique and exciting club atmosphere in the historic Minneapolis Depot’s impressive 60,000-square-foot venue. Guests will also experience some of the best networking, food, drink and entertainment in town.
AgNite is a non-partisan invitation-only event that will include over 3,000 guests, delegates, policymakers, news media and industry leaders. The event is being made possible by dozens of sponsors from Minnesota and across the country, including the Minnesota Corn Growers.
AgNite is basically taking the place of “The Great American Farm Breakfast,” which is normally held at the RNC but for some reason was canceled this time.
Posted By Cindy August 25, 2008
You probably are familiar with comedian Bill Engvall’s signature bit “Here’s your sign” that pokes fun at people who ask dumb questions to which the answers should be obvious.
The next time someone asks, “Why should we support domestic production of ethanol?” – here’s their sign, courtesy of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council. They have several others as part of an advertising campaign that started earlier this month encouraging supporters to “sign up for ethanol.”
The campaign highlights the role of ethanol in increased energy security, economic development and decreased gas prices.
The goal for the group is to get at least 4,000 state residents to register their support at the web site signupforethanol.com but the website has been attracting hundreds of ethanol supporters nationwide. Names of people from at least 25 other states are listed on the website ethanol supporter scroll. States from east to west and north to south are represented – including California, New York, Florida, New Hampshire, Washington, Arizona and more.
Check it out and add your name to the list.
Posted By Cindy August 18, 2008
Missouri State Fair-goers last week got an education about the cost of corn in their everyday food items.
Featuring a “Price Is Right” themed game, the Missouri Corn Growers booth in the Agriculture Building challenged consumers to guess the value of corn in various grocery items including milk, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, soda and corn flakes. According to MCGA Communications Director Becky Grisham, “With inaccurate accusations blaming corn for rising food costs, consumers were surprised to find that most items’ retail prices were largely unconnected to the value of corn needed to produce them.”
“The vast majority of questions and comments regarding corn and ethanol have been positive,” Grisham reported. “Most importantly, attendees are walking away with a better understanding of corn farmers’ ability to produce feed, food and fuel.”
Even Missouri Governor Matt Blunt stopped by the booth to play the game. No word on how well he did.
Posted By Cindy August 18, 2008
Kansas is now the second state to lead the nation in raising public awareness for higher blends of ethanol as the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), ICM and the Kansas Corn Commission Monday launched a blender pump incentive program for the Sunflower State.
“Today is a great day for Kansas as we help the ethanol industry expand higher blends of ethanol through blender pumps while also giving consumers a break at the pump and allowing them to use a product produced right here in Kansas,” said Kansas Corn Commission Chairman, Bob Timmons. “This program will help strengthen our economy by encouraging blender pump infrastructure development, and take us one step closer to weakening our dependence on foreign oil.”
The initiative will help fuel station retailers obtain funding and the equipment needed to sell higher blends of ethanol, which range from E20 to E50 and can only be used in FFVs. One of the main goals is to increase the state’s blender pump infrastructure by installing a minimum of 100 blender pumps over the next year. Currently, three blender pumps are open in the state thanks to a pilot program adopted by the Kansas Department of Agriculture that made Kansas one of the first states in the nation to allow ethanol blender pumps.
Earlier this year, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council launched a similar program.
Posted By Cindy August 18, 2008
Wisconsin’s Alice in Dairyland must be feeling like she is in Wonderland now driving the state in a brand new, fully-loaded E85 compatible Chevy Tahoe courtesy of the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board and General Motors.
Ashley Huibregtse is serving as the 61st Alice in Dairyland. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she earned her degree in Elementary Education and Communications. As a public relations specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Alice in Dairyland annually travels the equivalent of a trip around the world during her 12-month tour.
“It’s very appropriate that our state agricultural ambassador starts her year-long, statewide drive at an ethanol plant and that she does so driving our ethanol-fueled car,” says Ken Rosenow, Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board President and corn grower from Oconomowoc. “Having Alice in Dairyland drive the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board’s E-85 Chevy Tahoe while she promotes agriculture across the state is the perfect symbol of how corn-based ethanol drives our state’s economy in an economical, fuel-efficient and renewable manner.”
Posted By Cindy August 6, 2008
Both candidates for Missouri governor this fall now support ethanol.
The Missouri Corn Growers are breathing a sigh of relief today as pro-ethanol Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof defeated Sarah Steelman, who had vowed to cancel the state’s 10 percent ethanol standard for gasoline. In November, Hulshof will face Democrat Jay Nixon, who also supports the ethanol standard.
“Some candidates have tried to drive a wedge in Missouri’s agricultural community for political gain,” states Missouri Corn Growers Association President Mike Geske. “But farmers understand the market cycles and consumers aren’t buying the scapegoat tactics being used by ethanol’s critics.”
“At a time when families are facing tough budget decisions and canceling vacation plans, Exxon Mobile reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion, the largest quarterly profit ever by a U.S. corporation,” Geske said. “Our wealth is going overseas and our businesses are being bought out by foreign investors, yet Missouri’s ethanol industry remains farmer owned. Members of the agriculture community have built this industry from the ground up and those dollars are staying here at home. In today’s economic environment, it is really one of the few bright spots.”
Missouri is home to six farmer-owned ethanol plants, producing over 250 million gallons of ethanol annually.
Posted By Cindy July 22, 2008
A coalition of commodity groups in Texas has put together a clever and informative website to clean up the misinformation about higher food prices.
TexasPriceCheck.com provides a number of facts, reports, research and statements from a wide variety of reputable sources indicating that rising energy costs have affected the cost of everything from farm production to food processing to getting food to the grocery store. Yeah, okay – anybody can do that. But they do it in a pretty unique and interactive way.
The site features an animated grocery conveyor belt, which allows visitors to click on food items to learn the farmer’s share of the retail price for bread, corn flakes, peanut butter and other food staples. Another animation depicts an innocent grocery cart that meets a tragic end in the “reality aisle.” A number of Texas icons such as Cadillac Ranch and a Texas license plate are featured, as well in a context related to food prices.
Even better, the Web site is being promoted in a variety of ways across Texas. Billboards feature a grocery cart being threatened by an oil pump jack and provide the Web address for consumers to learn more. Newspaper ads in major markets are planned, as well as a radio campaign later this fall.
The consumer education initiative is being funded by the Texas Peanut Producers Board, Texas Corn Producers Board, and the Texas Wheat Producers Board. Check it out!
Posted By Cindy July 17, 2008
The Missouri Corn Growers Association is defending the statewide ethanol standard with facts instead of hype.
CEO Gary Marshall says that while recent political proposals claim repealing the statewide ethanol standard would lower fuel and food prices, the effect would be quite the opposite.
“Simple economics dictate that increasing supply helps reduce price,” said Gary Marshall. “Utilizing a fuel produced and refined in Missouri is part of the reason our state has some of the lowest gas prices in the nation.”
Marshall notes that the Missouri Renewable Fuel Standard was structured so that it only requires gasoline to be blended with 10 percent ethanol when ethanol is cheaper than conventional gasoline, meaning that ethanol cannot increase the cost to consumers.
He also points out that blaming ethanol for skyrocketing food and fuel costs is not supported by the facts. According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while households are facing a 23 percent increase in their total food costs, they are facing a 335 percent increase in their gasoline costs since 2002.
“If fuel prices had increased at the same rate as food, we would only be paying $1.39 per gallon for gasoline,” Marshall says. “And while grocery bills are going up due mainly to increasing transportation, labor and marketing expenses, Missouri’s food costs remain inline with other neighboring states.”
“The hype is just that – hype,” he concludes.
Posted By Cindy July 10, 2008
Amazingly, two turkey farmers in different parts of the country have the exact same views about ethanol, using the exact same words in editorials to different newspapers.
The first appeared in the Harrisonburg Virginia “Daily News Record” on June 16, written by James L. Mason, a turkey farmer from Rockingham County. The second was “written” by Peter Rothfork of central Minnesota and appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on July 8.
Both start exactly the same way:
Over the past few months, a debate has begun about whether it’s a good idea for Congress to force America to turn over one-third of our nation’s corn into ethanol. It’s about time.
Instead of engaging in this debate, however, some who support the current policy have decided to make it personal, claiming that those who want to take a second look at ethanol are out to get the American farmer. In a nation that deeply respects farmers, those are fighting words — and I know them to be false. I believe we should rethink our ethanol policy, and I am a farmer.
They then add personal information about their individual operations. After that, the letters are nearly identical.
The Minnesota Corn Growers pointed out the similarities to Minnesota TV station wanting to cover the story. When confronted on camera by the reporter, Rothfork admitted that he “had help with the article by Sherrie Rosenblatt,” public relations vice president for the National Turkey Federation. He said the ideas and thoughts in the editorial are his own, “She helped me craft the words.”
“There are a couple of thing that set this apart from the usual ‘that’s just PR flaks doing their job’ scenario,” says Mark Hamerlinck, communications director for the Minnesota Corn Growers. “First, these are not simply letters to the editor that were generated by a letter writing campaign – in the case of the Star Tribune, this piece took up a third of their op-ed page. And, had the opinion piece been on another subject (say, the economic and security benefits of ethanol) you can bet they wouldn’t have touched it had they known it was published a month before in another paper under another name.” Hamerlinck gives the KARE11 television reporter credit for asking the turkey farmer about the obvious editorial similarities.
Corn and ethanol industry representatives are urged to keep an eye out for similar turkey sightings in their own areas and use their own ammunition to shoot back.
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